Last week I was at a gathering of old high school friends in Los Angeles. We graduated together 50 years ago.
We shared stories and Margaritas.
One of the shared stories concerned the sit-in that many of us who were members of the student branch of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) participated in in the hallways of the Los Angeles school district’s headquarters.
L.A. schools have a long history of legal and de facto segregation. In 1963 CORE was challenging district attendance lines that reinforced the city’s school segregation.
I was 15 in 1963. It was my first sit-in – though not my last – in pursuit of greater democracy.
So I had to laugh when Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan complained about the Democrats’ sit-in last night. Nobody expected the NRA-controlled Republicans who control the House to pass any restrictions on guns or on who owns them.
There is plenty that is wrong with the current proposals. They don’t go far enough. The focus on no-fly lists cause concerns about civil liberties and racial profiling.
Yet, I believe that most folks watching things unfold over the past few days see it as a fight between those concerned with gun violence and those who do the bidding of the NRA.
Ryan attacked the House members sitting-in in the House chambers. He said they were bad for democracy. Nothing ever got accomplished by sit-ins, he said.
One thing for sure. Ryan is no historian.